Share this with your friends
Picture, if you will, for a moment, a small, quiet, quaint family-oriented, little mountain town tucked away in the Wasatch Mountains, down the road from fabulous ski resorts such as Park City. Heber City, Utah is such a town. With a population of 11,362 full time residents, Heber folks typically consist of families, farmers and an occasional retiree, living among the horses, barns and old, charming and beautiful farm homes.
However, in just days, this charming town in Wasatch County expects to have it’s population double, perhaps triple when the celebrants of the Rainbow Gathering set up camp.
Wasatch County and Heber City officials have released the following statement regarding the upcoming Rainbow Gathering, scheduled to begin July 1st.
Starting June 13th, and continuing through mid-July, an organization known as the Rainbow Family of Living Light will be holding its annual Rainbow Gathering, which will reportedly draw 10,000 to 20,000 participants from across the country. This Gathering will take place on the national forest east of Heber City. According to attendees who have already arrived, some participants plan to linger in the area until August 2014.
According to the organization’s websites, the stated purpose of the Gathering is to allow like-minded members of utopian, bohemian, hipster, and hippie cultures to meet together to further their ideals.
The practical impact of the Gathering is the potential increased strain on community resources. While many members of the Rainbow Family are upstanding citizens, a small segment of their population have reportedly caused significant and detrimental impacts on nearby communities.
For instance, reports of previous Rainbow Gatherings show some past attendees engaged in criminal activity, including aggressive panhandling at stores and gas stations, trespassing, shoplifting, public urination, and nudity/lewdness. In addition, these reports show some attendees have left local emergency room and hospital facilities with unpaid medical services totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars before leaving the area a month or so later.
While the majority of Gathering attendees are reported to be respectful, law abiding and legitimate customers in local businesses, there have been reports of destruction of grocery merchandise in an apparent attempt to obtain the product if it is discarded in the dumpster. There have also been reports of retaliatory and intimidating action if business owners refuse to serve members of this group.
County officials, including the County Council, Manager, Sheriff, Health Director, Public Works Director, Emergency Management and Attorney and their respective staffs are actively engaged in coordinating responses. Additionally, Representative Kraig Powell and Senator Kevin VanTassellare
are coordinating with the Governor’s Office and other state departments and resources. The U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Bureau has committed personnel and equipment.
While the County is taking steps to minimize the potential impact resulting from the Gathering, we urge citizens to continue this Valley’s long legacy of treating all individuals equally, fairly and courteously and, at the same time:
1. When confronted by panhandlers, respectfully decline their solicitations because failing to do so reportedly emboldens some members of this group and leads to aggressive panhandling situations where vulnerable citizens are strong-armed and/or intimidated into giving-up money or other items);
2. Not seeking-out or entering the Gathering Site for mere interest-sake;
3. Closing garage doors, locking homes, businesses and vehicles and not leaving personal property or merchandise unattended or available to opportunists;
4. Calling 911 in times of emergency and 435-654-1411 when reporting non-emergency concerns; and
5. Checking the Wasatch County website to ask questions or obtain additional information regarding the effects of this Gathering on our community.
The Rainbow Family of Living Light Unofficial Home Page can be found at this link and is full of information about the group, the movement and their belief system.
It is longstanding Rainbow Family consensus that nobody has ever, or ever will represent the Rainbow Family. This is an unofficial collection of information on the Rainbow Family and the Rainbow Gatherings, and in no way should anyone who works on this web site be considered to be representing the Rainbow Family. Since various Law Enforcement agencies and the Forest Service can’t seem to understand the preceding paragraph, go to this link for a more verbose and simplified version especially for you.
What is the Rainbow Family ? (from their website)
Some say we’re the largest non-organization of non-members in the world. We have no leaders, and no organization. To be honest, the Rainbow Family means different things to different people. I think it’s safe to say we’re into intentional community building, non-violence, and alternative lifestyles. We also believe that Peace and Love are a great thing, and there isn’t enough of that in this world. Many of our traditions are based on Native American traditions, and we have a strong orientation to take care of the the Earth. We gather in the National Forests yearly to pray for peace on this planet.
In short, Utah is welcoming Rainbow Family members and all other attendees. There is a plethora of activities throughout the state which are not stereotypical “Mormon” based, and the Rainbow Gathering is a fine example of how a group of like minded, peaceful individuals can come together to share in an experience in Utah’s wonderful Wasatch mountains.
Photo Credit:under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons